Thursday, April 17, 2014
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans police hope a $10,000 reward and blurry surveillance camera images will lead to arrests in a Mother's Day shooting that wounded 19 people and showed again how far the city has to go to shake a persistent culture of violence that belies the city's festive image.
In this image taken from video and provided Monday, May 13, 2013, by the New Orleans Police Department, a possible shooting suspect in a white shirt, bottom center, shoots into a crowd of people, Sunday in New Orleans. The possible suspect may have two accomplices in the Mother's Day gunfire that wounded 19 people during a New Orleans neighborhood parade. (AP Photo/New Orleans Police Department)
New Orleans police officer collects evidence at the scene of a shooting at the intersection Frenchman Street at N. Villere on Mother's Day in New Orleans, Sunday May 12, 2013. Gunmen opened fire on dozens of people marching in a Mother's Day neighborhood parade in New Orleans on Sunday, wounding at least 17, police said. (AP Photo/Doug Parker)
Angry residents said gun violence — which has flared at two other city celebrations this year — goes hand-in-hand with the city's other deeply rooted problems such as poverty and urban blight. The investigators tasked with solving Sunday's shooting work within an agency that's had its own troubles rebounding from years of corruption while trying to halt violent crime.
"The old people are scared to walk the streets. The children can't even play outside," Ronald Lewis, 61, said Monday as he sat on the front stoop of his house, about a half a block from the shooting site. His window sill has a hole from a bullet that hit it last year. Across the street sits a house marked by bullets he said were fired two weeks ago.
"The youngsters are doing all this," said Jones, who was away from home when the latest shooting broke out.
Video released early Monday shows a crowd gathered for a boisterous second-line parade suddenly scattering in all directions, with some falling to the ground. They appear to be running from a man in a white T-shirt and dark pants who turns and runs out of the picture. The image isn't clear, but police say they hope someone will recognize him and notify investigators.
Police were working to determine whether there was more than one gunman, though they initially said three people were spotted fleeing from the scene. Whoever was responsible escaped despite the presence of officers who were interspersed through the crowd as part of routine precautions for such an event.
No arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon, but Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said investigators were making significant progress. Ballistic evidence gathered at the scene was giving them "very good leads to work on," he said.
"I can assure whoever did this we know a lot more about you than you think we do. And my reccomendation to you is to collect yourself and turn yourself in," he said.
Witness Jarrat Pytell said he was walking with friends near the parade route when the crowd suddenly began to break up.
"I saw the guy on the corner, his arm extended, firing into the crowd," said Pytell, a medical student.
"He was obviously pointing in a specific direction; he wasn't swinging the gun wildly," Pytell said.
Pytell said he tended to one woman with a severe arm fracture — he wasn't sure if it was from a bullet or a fall — and to others including an apparent shooting victim who was bleeding badly.
Three gunshot victims remained in critical condition Monday, though their wounds didn't appear to be life-threatening. Most of the wounded had been discharged from the hospital.
It's not the first time gunfire has shattered a festive mood in the city this year. Five people were wounded in a drive-by shooting in January after a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, and four were wounded in a shooting after an argument in the French Quarter in the days leading up to Mardi Gras. Two teens were arrested in connection with the MLK shootings; three men were arrested and charged in the Mardi Gras shootings.
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New Orleans police officers investigate the scene at the intersection of Frenchmen and N. Villere Streets in New Orleans after gunfire at a Mother's Day second-line parade on Sunday, May 12, 2013. Police spokeswoman Remi Braden said in an email that many of the 17 victims were grazed and most of the wounds weren't life-threatening. No deaths were reported. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Michael DeMocker)
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Bystanders comfort a shooting victim while awaiting EMS at the intersection of Frenchmen and N. Villere Streets after authorities say gunfire injured at least a dozen people, including a child, at a Mother's Day second-line parade in New Orleans on Sunday, May 12, 2013. No deaths were reported. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Lauren McGaughy)